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8Apr/120

Books I’ve been reading

(I think this may win the award for most unimaginative title for a post on this blog so far.)

One of my goals for 2012 was to read more books. Well, this was actually a 2011 goal as well, but out of the 12 books I wanted to try and read that year, I only managed one. So, this year I aimed a little bit lower, and set my goal at 6 books. However, it's only March and I'm already in the middle of my fifth book. So, I figured it was time to do a blog post on the books I have been reading so far.

Part of the reason my book count is already this high is that I started reading the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins right in January. I'd been hearing good things about these books for over a year, but mostly in the sense of "vague internet hype" than actual personal recommendations. So I had acquired them as ebooks but not actually bothered to start reading them yet, partially because I figured it was probably mostly a bunch of teenage girls excessively fangirling something and might be a disappointment once I actually read them.

I went through a similar thing with the Harry Potter series, which I didn't start reading until the third book had already come out, because I saw them as overhyped kids' books as well. Then they turned out to be some of my favourite books of all time. And guess what? This was just the same. I finally started reading them, and was unable to put them down. They are really gripping and exciting. I liked the characterisations as well, the main characters are pretty well-rounded. Katniss, the main character, knows how to fend for herself but at the same time has plenty of insecurities. I also really liked that when Peeta (one of the main male characters) professes his love for her, she doesn't suddenly and spontaneously fall head over heels for him as well (as in too many other teen fantasy novels *cough*Twilight*cough*), but eventually pretends to love him back for her/their personal gain, then feels guilty about this afterwards, etc.

Well, actually, I call them fantasy novels, but they're technically post-apocalyptic science fiction, something I have to admit I was completely unaware of when I started reading. I thought they were set in a slightly "historical" setting, as many fantasy novels are, where some things "magically" happen, etc; but they're actually set an undetermined time into the future, only most of society is so impoverished due to previous wars etc. that they live a little more primitively than we do at present. Also, there's no actual magic, not even in the arena where the Hunger Games are fought, just more advanced technology than we have.

Anyway, I thought these were a really good read and would definitely recommend them. There are three books in the series (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay), and I think I finished each of them in two days, maybe three at the most, because they're just really hard to put down once you start reading. I actually read most of Catching Fire while doing bartending shifts at an eth0 event, and I think a few visitors may have had trouble getting my attention to order stuff occasionally. Sorry 'bout that. :P I would also advise you to go see the Hunger Games movie that's playing in theatres across the world right now, since it is, in my opinion, one of the better book adaptations that have been done over the years.

A week or two ago, I also read Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, from the Discworld series. This is essentially the Christmas episode of the Discworld universe; the Hogfather is the Discworld's Santa Claus, basically. I did actually get myself this book as a Christmas present last December, but then I went and read the Hunger Games trilogy first, and then nothing for a little while after that. Then the weather suddenly turned all nice and sunny, and I just wanted to read a nice book outside in the sun, instead of being cooped up behind my laptop, inside, and finally started on this. It didn't seem entirely appropriate, with temperatures climbing above 20°C for the first time this year, but oh well. :P

If you have read (and liked) any other Discworld novels, you'll like this one as well. It is full of typical Pratchett humour and seemingly unrelated storylines that suddenly start to interweave. Hogfather is part of the "Death" line of novels within the Discworld series, though this book focuses on Susan Sto-Helit instead of Death himself for quite a bit. The "Night Watch" line is actually my favourite within the universe, but since I have read all the books in that one by now, I'm working my way through the "Death" series now and find I quite like this one too.

And then I just recently started on A Feast For Crows by George RR Martin. I read the first three books (A Game Of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords) in the A Song Of Ice And Fire series several years ago, and actually finished the third book right around the time A Feast For Crows was released. I did buy that one as well, but then never actually started reading it. So this had been sitting unused on my bookshelf for about six years now. The first book has been adapted to a 10-part television series by HBO, and the start of the second season (an adaptation of the second book) is right around the corner happened last week. (See, this is what happens when you write blog posts but then don't actually post them. :P) I guess that's what inspired me to finally continue this series.

I do quite like these books, but they can get a bit long-winded and complicated at times, I'll have to admit. Each book is probably about a thousand pages on average, and contains ten or more different, partially interwoven storylines/perspectives, and literally several dozen characters. Add in the fact that a lot of these characters have one or more nicknames and are often simply referred to by one of these nicknames, and you can probably see why it can get pretty hard to keep track. That being said, it is a very good story, very well-written.

So, that's my books for 2012 so far. Once I finish A Feast For Crows (which will probably take me at least another week), I guess I'll continue with the next book in the series, A Dance With Dragons. Or maybe I'll go read The Wise Man's Fear (by Patrick Rothfuss) first. Or any of the other two dozen books still on my to-read list... :P

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